The rose is without why,
it blooms because it blooms,
It pays no attention to itself,
asks not whether it is seen.
Attempting to improve oneself is not always harmful, although it can become a form of greed. It can leave one wanting, leave one desiring, leave one without fulfillment. Being a perfectionist and constantly trying to improve oneself is like a person studying her reflection in the mirror each morning and criticizing her features: “my eyes are too small or too big. My face is just the wrong shape. My skin is not soft enough, or my nose is too big, or too round.”
But what if each morning she smiled at her reflection instead, and said, “You are lovely.”
The same is true for our souls and deeper selves. I believe that we are wonderfully made, that we are fashioned in God’s image. This does not mean that we are without fault or sin. Consistently admitting our wrongs or “confessing our sins” can bring us into a more honest relationship with ourselves and God. But dwelling on our failures will only cause us to be irritable to others and angry with them. I’ve been there. Constantly criticizing myself and feeling like I am different only caused me to snap at the people closest to me because of my failed attempts to be perfect and to “be like everyone else” (whatever that means).
The way I am learning to accept myself is twofold: one part is to give up my stereotypes and generalizations of other people. I try to listen to their entire story and not make judgments. I keep a “beginner’s mind” by stripping away (as best as I can) what I’ve assumed about them. This allows me to see them as freshly as possible. I don’t try to diagnose myself or others like I’ve done in the past. Consequently, seeing other people more fully allows me to see myself as a whole, complex person, too. The second part is to be forgiving of myself without being blind to what I might have done wrong. I try to be content with my quirks and not rid myself of them. I trust my intuition and deep thoughts, but I don’t let myself run away with my own perceptions of reality that may be very far from the truth.
We don’t need to search for a defining purpose, for constant recognition from other people, for awards of personal accomplishments from our egos because we are already deeply loved. Now we can remove the spotlight from our mistakes and beautifully unfurl and unfold as our true selves.